Thrashing Around on August 4, 2019

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Illustrated by Melissa Mead

 

I’ll be your friend.”

Those poignant words emblazoned on a little boy’s back-to-school T-shirt ring especially true on a sad day in America, when our hearts are full of tears and fear. 

Today every single American feels isolated, puzzled by the insanity of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

What path led each shooter to think it was a good idea to kill strangers who were just going about their daily business of living and loving? 

What kind of misery was brewing in that person that a tragedy seemed like the perfect answer to what ailed him?

If this is a sign of the times, maybe we must hold accountable some of today’s disturbing trends: 

  • Every day people wage verbal warfare on social media. 
  • Teens worry that being “famous” is all that really matters in the world today.
  • People throw stones as if belittling others were a sound solution.

To bypass useless blame shifting, I wonder if we should search for answers in our own backyard. I know that in my own world, I learn many morsels of wisdom from children—the youths of today, our hopes for tomorrow.

They want all of us to act better.

To “repair” a culture that has run amok, let’s try these ideas:

  1. Teach your children to accept others and root for everyone to succeed.
  2. Tell them not to mock those who are different. Who knows when laughing at a classmate’s odd walk will be exactly the burden that kid carries lifelong and builds on until he is so angry he picks up an AK-47 and walks into a mall to go out of life as the latest maniac on a rampage?
  3. Clarify what’s important—not medals or trophies, grades or acceptance letters. Kindness counts. Most other things, not so much.

Your children want to do positive things for others, whether it’s volunteer work or providing backpacks for students who can’t afford them or simply accepting the role of “peer leader” to pave the way for unsure classmates.

So, what can we do today as the adults in the room? 

  • Talk to children around you. Ask what they want to do to brighten our country.  It can be as simple as a heart-gift, like writing a note to an elderly person in a home who gets no communications from family. 
  • Take the lead. For every person who died yesterday and every pain in the families who suffer, “do a positive.” If you were to die today, you would want someone to keep your memory alive by a “do unto others” move. 

Not one of us can fix all the dysfunctional minds in this nation. Not one of us can force our legislators to take swift action to keep guns out of hands of those who are unstable. 

But we can encourage our children, friends, and family to treat people with compassion and reduce the negativity. Help those who are struggling to find their place in society.

Be gentle. Do not go into that good night with anger and payback.  

Wear that first-day-of-school T-shirt: “I will be your friend.” And then live up to that promise.

Hold hands in the greatest country in the world. 

 

Blogged by: Diane Stafford

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